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Beyoncé Knowles

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Published on Aug 16, 2012

On Sunday's World Humanitarian Day, Beyoncé Knowles will probably be glued to her computer, checking the results of a campaign that aims to make social media history.

The American singer has joined forces with the United Nations in an attempt to reach one billion people on 19 August to celebrate World Humanitarian Day by doing at least one act of kindness, or good works. As of today (16 August), the campaign has reached more than 175 million.

In an interview recorded at UN headquarters ahead of the Day, Beyoncé told television journalist Anderson Cooper she got involved with the campaign to help boost recognition of humanitarian work after hearing about the UN humanitarian workers killed on 19 August nine years ago by a bomb in Baghdad. She decided it was "an incredible thing to try to turn that into something positive and to try to include the world into doing something great for someone else."

In 2008, the UN General Assembly designated 19 August World Humanitarian Day to raise public awareness of humanitarian assistance worldwide, recognize people who risk their lives to help people in need, and to mark the day in 2003 when 22 people lost their lives in an attack on the UN offices in Baghdad, Iraq.

Beyoncé has donated a song entitled "I Was Here" to the campaign. The video of the song, which she recorded in front of a live audience in the UN's historic General Assembly Hall last week, will be released on Sunday.

The singer said her song's message was that she wanted to "leave my footprints in the sands of time", adding that "we all want to know that our life meant something. And that we did something for someone else. And that we spread positivity, no matter how big or how small."

Asked about the idea behind the campaign for World Humanitarian Day, the top UN humanitarian official, Valerie Amos said 19 August was "both a commemoration, because there are a lot of people who lose their lives trying to help people, but it's also a celebration of the things that people do".

Amos said a main message was not to be discouraged by the "huge amount of suffering in the world", including in places like Syria or the Democratic Republic of Congo, but to recognize that "we're not helpless."

Beyoncé urged people to go to the website www.whdiwashere.org and pledge an "act of kindness", for example by volunteering in their communities, or donating time or money.

She added her hope that the campaign would reach beyond just one day, since "people need help all the time". Speaking about her own activities helping survivors of hurricane Katrina rebuild their lives, she said she hoped her video would help remind people that "every single day the smallest thing helps".

Asked whether she hoped to do more with the UN, she said she "would love to", as she was "learning so much and inspired completely."

Communities and organizations across the globe will celebrate World Humanitarian Day through commemorations and public events, from Dubai to Geneva, Bangkok to Panama City and Addis Ababa to New York, according to UN officials.

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